Before Texas Holdem became the default game among poker aficionados, most people played 7 Card Stud Poker (or simply, Stud Poker). In fact, it was the game everyone enjoyed at home on the weekends with their friends. Times have changed and Stud Poker has taken a backseat to other poker variants, like Omaha and holdem (be sure to read collection of Texas Holdem tips). However, it remains one of the most popular forms of poker played at the major poker sites.
If you have read our piece on how to play Razz poker, you’ll already be familiar with the rules of Stud Poker. The game progresses in a very similar manner. The main difference is that hand valuations in 7 Card Stud follow conventional poker hand rankings rather than the Ace to Five system used in Razz.
On this page, we’ll provide an all-inclusive tutorial showing you how to play Seven Card Stud Poker. We’ll go through the basics of the game before explaining how betting works. It’s a little different than betting in Texas Holdem, which you may be used to. Because a lot of the top online poker rooms offer Stud Poker Hi Low, we’ll also describe how that poker variant is played.
How To Play 7 Card Stud Poker: The Basics
Stud Poker follows an ante system rather than using blinds (as in holdem). While the amount of the ante might be different depending upon where you’re playing, it’s usually 1/5 of the small bet on a limit game. For example, a $5/$10 limit game would require each player to contribute a $1 ante. Once the ante has been posted, each player is dealt three cards – two hole cards face-down and one upcard.
Another forced bet in Seven Card Stud Poker is the bring-in. This is a small amount that is usually 1/4 or 1/2 of the small bet. For example, on a $5/$10 table, it will either be $1.25 or $2.50, depending on the poker room.
Only one player is required to post the bring-in bet: the person who has the lowest exposed card after the initial deal. If more than one player has the same exposed low card, the player seated closest to the dealer’s left must post the bring-in.
The bring-in sparks the first round of betting, which proceeds clockwise.
Betting In Seven Card Stud Poker
There are five rounds of betting in 7 Card Stud Poker. Bets and raises during the first two rounds (following Third Street and Fourth Street, respectively) are held at the small bet limit (i.e. $5 in a $5/$10 game). Bets and raises made during the last three rounds (following Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Street) are held at the big bet limit. Most online poker rooms only allow three raises per round of betting.
With the above in mind, it’s important to highlight one exception. Following Fourth Street, bets and raises are normally limited to the small bet. However, if a player’s board is showing a pair, any active player can choose to post the small bet or big bet. Once a player has posted the big bet, all other active players must follow suit with their subsequent calls and raises.
To explain how each round of betting progresses, let’s go back to Third Street. As noted, the bring-in bet starts the first round of betting. The play moves clockwise from the person who posted the bring-in. Each player can take one of three actions:
1. call the bring-in
2. complete the bet
Completing the bet simply means to raise it to the lower limit. For example, if the bring-in on a $5/$10 limit table is $1.25, a player can call it, or complete the bet by raising $3.75 (i.e. $5 less $1.25).
Once every player has either called, raised, or folded, another card is dealt face-up. This is Fourth Street. It triggers a new round of betting. The person who has the highest ranking cards showing makes the first move by checking, betting, or folding. Betting progresses clockwise around the table. Once the round has completed, another upcard is dealt to each player. This is Fifth Street.
Betting following Fifth Street proceeds in the same manner as the previous round. It begins with the player who has the highest ranking board, and goes clockwise around the table. Bets and raises must meet the higher limit (i.e. $10 in a $5/$10 game). Once this round completes, each player receives another upcard, called Sixth Street.
After Sixth Street has been dealt, a new round of betting begins. Again, the person with the highest ranking cards showing is the first player to take action. All bets and raises must meet the big bet limit, similar to the previous round. Once betting finalizes, each active player receives a final card. It is called Seventh Street and is dealt face-down.
A last round of betting follows Seventh Street. If more than one player remains active after the round completes, players show their hands to take down the pot. The person who can make the highest ranking 5-card hand from the seven cards that have been dealt wins the pot.
Stud Poker Hi Low
Seven Card Stud Hi Low (sometimes called Stud Eights or Better) is played in the same manner as Stud Poker – with two differences.
- First, rather than a single player taking down the pot, the pot is split between at least two players. The person with the lowest ranking hand (according to the Ace to Five ranking system) splits the pot with the person who has the highest ranking hand.
- Second, Seven Card Stud Hi Low is played with a qualifier; the player with the low hand must meet an “eight or better” standard. That means all five cards in that person’s hand must be equal to eight or lower in order to qualify. It is possible for the player with the highest ranking hand to “scoop” the entire pot if no active player can qualify for the low hand.
The Top Poker Sites For Playing Stud Poker
If you are familiar with Razz poker, you’ll find that learning how to play Seven Card Stud Poker is intuitive. Most aspects of the game (besides hand valuations) are identical. That said, if you have never played either poker variant, getting accustomed to the action in Stud Poker might take a little time. We recommend using the following top-rated online poker rooms to get your feet wet:
Stud Poker will always enjoy a huge following. Whether you’re looking to take a break from Texas Holdem or want to sharpen your 7 Card Stud Hi Low playing skills, visit the poker sites listed above. Create your account at each site, grab your bonuses, and have fun taking down the pots.